The New England Patriots followed up their big victory last week by beating the Atlanta Falcons 25-0 and the game was not even close. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick secured his 13th shutout in his career. Meanwhile, the Falcons were shut out at home for the first time since 1988 against the Los Angeles Rams. After this disgusting loss, we’ll review the five lessons from Thursday night’s game.
1) Falcons needed Pitts to be active: When Kyle Pitts is not involved on offense, Atlanta suffers. During the fourth quarter, a pass was intended to him and after he was jammed at the line by Patriots cornerback Kyle Dugger, Pitts quit on the route, the ball sailed over his head and was intercepted. As Pitts matures, he’ll learn he can’t quit on the route after getting jammed at the line. Pitts caught three passes for 29 yards.
2) Protect Ryan at all costs: Coming into tonight, I was not sure what the offensive line was missing. But Ryan was sacked three times in the first half, hurt his foot, and was bleeding badly below his left elbow. In the evening, Matt Ryan finished 19/28 for 153 yards. He threw no touchdowns and two interceptions. Josh Rosen and Felipe Frans played during garbage time, each throwing interceptions.
Notably, after cornerback AJ Terrell intercepted Mac Jones, the Falcons were turned away on third and fourth down at the Patriots’ 16-yard line in the third quarter. At the end of the night, Ryan was frustrated as he tried to inspire his guys upfront.
3) This roster will be turned over: There are 22 guys on the roster who are on 1- year contracts so what are they actually playing for? Do they want to stay here in ATL or move on? Is it just a check and no passion for play? Yes, this is a transitional year, and the general manager, Terry Fontenot said they are in win-now mode, however, there’s no way to build a winner with journeymen.
4) This was not a repeat of the Super Bowl matchup: As the national media leaned into Super Bowl LI, today’s version of the Patriots whipped the Falcons by playing fundamentally sound football. New England rallied around their rookie quarterback, Mac Jones. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s chemistry appeared to be lackluster and the head coach, Arthur Smith, must figure out what’s going on in the locker room. Did Sunday’s 40-point loss to the Cowboys cause the Falcons to be demoralized? Did they have issues getting up for tonight’s game? My guess is we are witnessing an emotional avalanche.
5) The offensive line got manhandled again: Ryan was sacked four times, hit a dozen times and the Patriots defensive line got home. Christian Barmore, Kyle Van Noy, and Matthew Judon abused Kaleb McGary, Matt Hennessy, Jake Matthews, and the rest of the Falcons’ offensive line. The offensive line got pushed back farther than a bad hairline in the barbershop. As a former offensive line coach, Smith knows he can’t win without any sound protection. As the leaves fall in Atlanta, the Falcons’ hopes for a respectable season are withering away.